If you thought Kingston Rudieska‘s last release — Ska n’ Soul with Dr Ring-Ding — was too short, now they’ve gone and put out a full two-CD album. This latest project, titled Everyday People, shows off the nine-piece ska band in pure form. Simply put, they’ve never sounded more like themselves before.
The secret weapon in their arsenal this time was Brian Dixon, music engineer extraordinaire. You might have heard some of his music from his time playing guitar in the LA dirty reggae band the Aggrolites, but his main love is in producing music. Dixon was in Korea this September to record, giving Korea Gig Guide enough time to ask him a few questions about his mission here.
How were you convinced to come to Korea?
An old friend of mine, Walter Dunn, works for the US military and is stationed in Korea. He told me about Kingston Rudieska and that they were going to do a new album and that I should engineer/produce it. He told me they were great musicians, but they needed that “grit” that I’m known for.
I have traveled the world, but had never been to Korea. Kingston Rudieska are a tight band and I wanted to make them sound the way I hear them. It was a very easy sell. Getting to go to a foreign country to record ska/rocksteady/reggae is a blessing.
Can you explain your philosophy on music production? What makes a recording have grit?
My approach is so simple. I have the band play live together in the same room. No headphones. No separation. I put them in a circle, so they can all see each other. The band always plays better in their natural environment. This is how they rehearse. This is how they sound the best. It’s so easy.
What is one thing you can zero in on about Kingston Rudieska that you would say is truly unique and special?
I instantly Ioved their “Asian” take on Jamaican music. They do it differently than musicians from California. Musicians from Los Angeles have a certain take on Jamaican music. Asians have their way. Both are valid, in my opinion. Life isn’t fun if you eat the same dinner every night.
Is there a lot of what you would consider “Koreanness” in their music?
There’s some, but I wanted more. This was a big discussion during the recording. They wanted a more traditional Jamaican sound. I wanted a more “Korean sound,” using ancient traditional Korean melodies and instruments. They seemed a bit confused why I kept asking them to do that. Five thousand years of culture… it is amazing to me. Finally, the last day, they indulged me with a “jam session” – they pulled out two ancient Korean songs to play. It was amazing! They actually embraced their 5,000-year-old culture and played the music that is in their souls. Beautiful.
Why was it decided to do a second disc?
When I do production/engineering work, I usually ask the band to do a “jam session” for me. This is helpful for a number of reasons. I get to hear what the band is sounding like in that particular studio. I can check all of the mics. The band starts to relax and have fun, which makes recording their songs much easier because the studio can be stressful for musicians. Kingston Rudieska was against my idea at first. It’s just not the Korean way. On the last day, we finished with the recording of all their songs, so they allowed my “jam session.” That became the second disc. The second disc isn’t “perfect,” but it has a certain energy that is even higher than the album. An incredible few hours that I will never forget. The band was on fire!
How will this album compare to earlier Kingston Rudieska recordings?
I recorded them the way they were meant to sound!
The double album Everyday People was released at the start of the month, but the release party is happening on Saturday, December 13 at MUV Hall, around the corner from Sangsang Madang in Hongdae. The concert starts at 7 pm and tickets are 35,000 won in advance and 40,000 won at the door.
For more information, RSVP on Facebook.